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'Beware. This book may be fatal to your blind faith"
on 6 June 2005
I'm quoting one of the reviews on the back of this book and it is a warning to some of the sort of Beatles fans who frequent fan clubs and Web forums. I know this from bitter previous experience of trying to start a debate on this and getting utterly cold-shouldered because the book trashed the reputation of 'our John'. I would tend to agree with the other reviewers in this section. It is a highly interesting and provocative read and is certainly in line with many other books that have subsequently been published. Of course, it is impossible for someone born in 1975 to have an inkling of whether any of this is true, i was 5 when he died,you can only go on gut feelings and other things you've read or heard.
So let me deal with a few points.
'Our John' trashed his own reputation repeatedly in interviews as he admitted to hitting women and massive LSD use. Ray Coleman's book, good as it was, didn't go into hardly any detail about drugs and seemed to suggest Lennon gave up everything by the mid 70's. So could he suggest why John looked so painfully thin at the end of his life? and why his nostrils were caving in more and more ( a very large clue to cocaine use). I think Goldman does overdo it though as he does on other points. He says Lennon was so weak from drug use by 1978 he could barely hold a guitar and he also suggests the Beatles were taking cocaine/heroin cocktails during Sgt Pepper. He also suggests Lennon was in a trance during Pepper and would snap out of it with an outburst. Where did these ideas come from? And how was Pepper so good and cohesive under these circumstances?
As far as sex goes, Pete Shotton's affectionate book revealed a lot about the Spanish holiday but again Goldman went over the top. On the Bob WOoler episode, Goldman suggests he nearly killed him but i actually asked Wooler himself at the Liverpool convention one year and he told me the incident was overblown. Goldman actually doesn't mention the idea that John and Stu Sutcliffe may have been intimate, which is mentioned in Pauline Sutcliffe's book, but he suggests that John and Epstein were intimate for years. I wonder why Peter Brown didn't mention this in his 'sensational' book, published in 1982?
There are numerous points, i fully suggest reading this book with an open mind and making your own mind up.
Musically of course, we have all the Beatles songs and outtakes to listen to so we can judge the music and on this i believe Goldman is harsh. He criticizes Lennon's guitar playing and uses the Toronto concert in 1969 to judge his performing. Well as a guitarist of 15 years, i can tell you John was a good rhythm guitarist. He wasn't a viruoso guitarist as wasn't George Harrison but he used the guitar effectively to back someone up while he sang. If you see the video of the Toronto concert, Lennon and Clapton both look sick and in the grip of drug addiction (as well as the band having minimal rehearsal)so it's hardly fair to criticize his singing and say his singing had lost its power. why not judge on the 1972 Madison Square Garden concert, he seemed to have got his powerful voice back then. He also slags off 'Imagine' but can so many millions of people who adore that song be wrong?
I could write about numerous other things but if you compare this book and Ray COleman's, i think the truth is in the middle but more to Goldman's side.
Hope this helps